A Tour of Gov. Rick Scott's Dirtiest Deeds

A Tour of Gov. Rick Scott's Dirtiest Deeds
Illustration by Jason Edmiston

"I've seen the mountaintop!" shouted a woman blowing a whistle and marching in combat-style boots down Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach.

"We shall overcome Rick Scott's tyranny!" added a man who followed closely behind, limping a little.

At least 50 members of the disgruntled masses gathered outside the Palm Beach County Convention Center on this brutally warm March morning, when Gov. Rick Scott was about to give a speech. Scott had just introduced some of the budget proposals that would earn him the wrath of citizens across the state. Teachers, police officers, advocates for the disabled, retirees — people from all walks of life would soon be unified in their hatred of Florida's most powerful politician.

By May, a Quinnipiac University poll put Scott's approval rating at a dismal 29 percent. This week, the Broward police union is hosting a "Party to Leave the Party" protest against Scott in which cops who are Republicans plan to switch their voter registration and abandon the GOP en masse.

In response to this widespread discontent, Scott has urged his supporters to send prewritten letters to the editors of local newspapers."Rick Scott deserves our unwavering and enthusiastic support," the letters say. He also uses recorded phone messages to tout his policy decisions, irritating voters with robocalls about pill mills and government spending cuts.

Born in Illinois, Scott , 58, was raised by a truck-driver dad and a mom who worked odd jobs. For about three years starting when he was a toddler, his family lived in public housing — a humble beginning Scott emphasized in his campaign. By the time Scott was 10, his family had moved to a three-bedroom suburban house in Kansas City, Missouri, where he attended high school and college.

He earned a law degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and worked for a big firm in town before starting a health-care company called Columbia. He built his fortune at Columbia, eventually merging with Hospital Corporation of America and growing the enterprise to one of the world's largest health-care companies, with more than 340 hospitals and 550 health-care offices in 38 states. But the flush times ended abruptly.

In 1997, as FBI agents raided its offices and hospitals in several states, Columbia/HCA's board of directors forced Scott to resign. The feds alleged that the company had paid kickbacks to doctors in exchange for patient referrals and had overcharged Medicare. The U.S. Justice Department called the resulting criminal case the largest health-care fraud in American history. Columbia/HCA pleaded guilty to 14 felonies and paid $1.7 billion in fines. Scott was never charged.

He did, however, testify in a separate deposition in an unrelated civil case against Columbia/HCA in 2000. When asked basic questions, including whether he was ever employed by Columbia/HCA, Scott refused to answer, citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. In media interviews, Scott has said, "You have to take responsibility for what happens under your watch." But he also said he didn't know the company was doing anything wrong.

In 2003, Scott moved to Naples with his wife. Last year, the multimillionaire ran for governor as a political novice, in a surprise campaign funded primarily by $60 million of his own money. Elected in the Tea Party wave that swept the country, he preached about fiscal austerity and promptly took a knife to cherished social safety nets. In a brief, 60-day legislative session, he implemented a wide-ranging conservative agenda.

He slashed funding for public schools, disabled people, and the unemployed; gave health-care companies control of Medicaid; and privatized nearly all of the prisons in the southern part of the state. Meanwhile, he enacted some of the most restrictive voting laws Florida has seen since the 2000 election debacle.

In June, as the public outcry against his policies continued, one of Scott's top staffers resigned and another was transferred to the state Department of Veterans Affairs. The governor, watching his ship sink, hired a Tallahassee insider as his new chief of staff. He also backed off one of his most controversial executive orders, which required state employees to undergo drug tests.

Despite these changes, the influence of Scott's first, combustible legislative session has already been enormous. Here, New Times takes stock of his dirtiest accomplishments.

Outsourced Prisons to His Political Donors

Last year, the private prison industry gave nearly $1 million to political campaigns in Florida, according to the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in Politics. The majority of the cash went to Republicans, and the largest chunk, $822,000, came from the GEO Group, a Boca Raton-based prison company formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections. (GEO also contributed $25,000 to Scott's inauguration party.) The prison lobby's influence on the Republican-dominated Legislature was immediately evident.

In early February, Scott proposed a plan to transfer 1,500 inmates from state-run lockups to private ones. The next month, lawmakers in the state Senate slipped language into their massive budget bill that privatized nearly all of the state prisons in 18 counties, including Broward and Palm Beach. The budget passed in May, opening the door for the GEO Group and other companies to start bidding for contracts.

Proponents said the prison contracts will go only to bidders who reduce costs by 7 percent, saving the state about $27 million a year. But a legislative analyst who testified before the state Senate in February admitted it was tough to figure out the cost savings, because private and public prisons often operate differently. "They're never apples to apples," analyst Byron Brown said.

1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
Donna Bird
Donna Bird

You got to read this Article again, oh my goodness, I am become even more speechless- Why in the world did any one voted for these group of idioits. They used FEAR, and this FEAR, should be sued for Bulley people to believe a felon, he is a felon even though he is not convicted.

huweiwei
huweiwei

Maybe you can go shopping at[[ w w w - (upsfashion )- c o m ]]█田█田█.★∵**☆.∴★∵**☆I have bought one pair of air max shoes from that, the quality is good, the price is cheap,the ship is safe. 

WakeUp
WakeUp

Wow, surprised at the morons supporting the worst governor in the county.  I guess there are plenty of tea party rednecks that don't know what's good for them.  The uber-wealthy are using your ignorance to further their self interests.  If you're making under $200,000 a year, they aren't on your side...

Harv
Harv

Eric is really taking this paper down. What a rag it's become. It's amazing he can find someone willing to write this crap.

Jhop052
Jhop052

Ha ha... Go gov. Scott! Keep taking down these communist scum lib-tards!!!! Gotta love dumb-ass lisas' comment about sending the $400 million back to congress to solve???, the fed. Budget crisis...I guess that didn't work either??? Hey lib-tard Lisa.....we still have a budget crisis you stupid bitch!!! Go to hell you commie moron!!!

PROUD_TEXAN
PROUD_TEXAN

Whaaaa! Whaaaa! Whaaaa!

Nice socialist propaganda hit piece Lisa.

Burt Scholl
Burt Scholl

This gives some small idea of the extent to which the people of Florida have been afflicted by this vicious regime

Theresa Reynolds
Theresa Reynolds

Great article Lisa!   Scott is a slime ball...and those who voted for him - should accept responsibility for the deplorable condition our state is in.   Think before you vote you idiots!

Glen in Glendale
Glen in Glendale

You're right, Brickell, he's terrific, and the 71% of people who would vote for a ham sandwich over Rick Scott are all idiots. We should have just interviewed you for the article.

Voiceless in Brickell
Voiceless in Brickell

I posted a comment an hour ago that was critical of the level of bias and lack of objectivity in the article above. There was nothing inappropriate but it was nonetheless removed. The article was written provocatively was it not? If not, the refusal to acknowledge bias is a feat deserving of applause.

Middle Class Floridian
Middle Class Floridian

Lisa, I commend you on such a brave article...you are my hero.  Finally, someone is not afraid to speak out about our beloved governor.  I loved every bit of it.  I only hope the next great article you publish will be about this Ricktatorship falling apart and impeachment has been enacted or maybe the chance to recall this governor has finally been approved.It is a sad time when the horrible things that Dick Scott does to the middle class Floridians is no longer a surprise; yet when he does something nice “for the people,” I find myself wondering what’s in it for him.

KennyPowersII
KennyPowersII

Singling out Florida may not be fair. There is a fairly proportionate array of dumb ass voters  nationwide. i.e. Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, et al are some prime examples. Check out those governors. I will grant you that Ricky boy has done more damage to the most residents in the shortest time span possible. Now the same voters base that gave him 54 % has decided they don't like him to the tune of a mid 20 % approval rate. WTF happened? Morons is the best I can label them.

Judy Lau
Judy Lau

**** {{w w w }} {{luckystore7 }} {{ com }} *****The website whol esale for many kinds of fas hion sho es,like the nik e,jord an,pr ada, also including the jea ns,shirts,bags,hat and the decorations.All the products are free ship ping, and the the price is com petitive,and also can accept the pay pal pay ment.,after the paym ent, can ship within short time

Judy Lau
Judy Lau

**** {{w w w }} {{luckystore7 }} {{ com }} *****The website whol esale for many kinds of fas hion sho es,like the nik e,jord an,pr ada, also including the jea ns,shirts,bags,hat and the decorations.All the products are free ship ping, and the the price is com petitive,and also can accept the pay pal pay ment.,after the paym ent, can ship within short time

LOVE SHOPPING HERE.┈━═☆┈━═☆┈━═☆┈━═☆ We need fresh air everyday,we also need fresh items to obtain fresh mood.So

let's go to -- ★☆(

**** {{w w w }} {{luckystore7 }} {{ com }} *****★☆-- will lead your to a fresh world.Do not be hesitant.It is ok to let you feel

happy.Come on.LOVE

SHOPPING HERE.┈━═☆┈━═☆┈━═☆┈━═☆ We need fresh air everyday,we also need fresh items to obtain fresh mood.So let's

go to -- ★☆(

**** {{w w w }} {{luckystore7 }} {{ com }} *****★☆-- will lead your to a fresh world.Do not be hesitant.It is ok to let you feel

happy.Come on.LOVE

SHOPPING HERE.┈━═☆┈━═☆

The website whol esale for many kinds of fas hion sho es,like the nik e,jord an,pr ada, also including the jea ns,shirts,bags,hat and the decorations.All the products are free ship ping, and the the price is com petitive,and also can accept the pay pal pay ment.,after the paym ent, can ship within short time

Aalan
Aalan

What's to be proud of PROUD_TEXAN? Rick Perry? Another idiot governor.

 
Loading...